Some suggestions for Special Edition DVDs

Posted by · 6:51 am · September 23rd, 2008

United Artists' Heaven's GateEvery week, much to the delight of my children, several packages arrive at my door containing DVDs, movies that are not yet released in the home market that I am expected to review. Tough work, ain’t it? Seriously, I would do what I do just for the free movies.

That said, I have followed the history of DVD very closely and the manner in which several studios double dip with their releases. Most recently we have “The Godfather Restoration,” which is superb, but represents the third such DVD release for these films. The first came in 2001, The Godfather Trilogy, and then each film was released on its own so folks not wanting Part III could pass (sorry Kris).

Another film that went through many incarnations before the Ultimate Collector’s Edition was “Blade Runner,” though last year’s final release should be the final release. Francis Ford Coppola’s “Apocalypse Now” went through several variations before coming to us in the ultimate edition, minus, of course, “Hearts of Darkness,” the splendid doc about the film’s making. What might have been cool is to see some footage of Harvey Keitel as Willard (if it exists).

But it all leads me to wonder which films out there deserve a double disc/special edition release.

Certainly Michael Cimino’s “Heaven’s Gate” would be one to see as the director originally intended, no matter how yawn-inducing it might have been.  The same is true of Terence Malick’s “The Thin Red Line,” which was rumored to have a five-hour cut floating around somewhere. Rather than give us yet another version of “The New World,” which I quite liked, why not go for this misunderstood war epic?

Where, where, where,  is “The African Queen?” How is that a great classic like this sits unreleased in North America?  I spoke not long ago of “Ironweed,” which can be picked up in Europe but not here…ouch! And why is John Huston’s masterpiece “The Man Who Would Be King” available in a bare bones only edition?

Last year I adored “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford” and looked forward to the DVD release and any number of special features that might have been included. The ultimate release had next to nothing to offer, but I’m told a special editiomn is in the works.

How about “There Will Be Blood,” the best film of last year, which got a special edition — sort of — but could sure use another. Reaching back, “Sorcerer” could use a make-over on DVD, as could Milos Forman’s “Hair” and “Pennies from Heaven,” each recently mentioned in a column here at In Contention.  Both would have incredible commentaries from the cast and remaining directors.

You must have yours, so tell us: Which films deserve the special treatment on DVD.

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13 responses so far

  • 1 9-23-2008 at 7:21 am

    nick said...

    Sorcerer is definitely a film that deserves a new special edition DVD. Roger that on The Thin Red Line as well; that five hour cut would be a major event for film lovers.

    Jesse James definitely needs a special edition release; the only question is, which (of the at least five) cut would be the definitive director’s cut? I saw it at a test screening in April of 2007 and that version was longer than what was finally released last September.

    Kathryn Bigelow’s Strange Days deserves some special edition love. Michael Mann’s The Insider is screaming for a special edition, and even though he’s more-0r-less disowned it, I’d love to see his little-seen horror flick The Keep on DVD.

    John Sayles’ City of Hope is long overdue for a major DVD release. And where is a special edition for David Fincher’s underrated thriller The Game? There was an international special edition that got a release, but those of us without region free dvd players aren’t able to watch it.

    Marty Scorsese’s masterpiece Kundun deserves a special edition release, as does Steven Soderbergh’s Kafka.

    I am sure I could go on and on with this topic…

  • 2 9-23-2008 at 8:11 am

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    I don’t think the separation of the Godfather films had anything to do with Part III, John. It was obviously a ploy for the studio to get money from those not willing to buy the whole set and pick and choose the installments they wanted.

    Anyway, ditto The Thin Red Line. It’s a tragedy that all we have out there is the bullshit “Fox War Classics” thing or whatever. I even asked the Criterion folks once if they planned on releasing it: nope. Upsetting.

    I’m not sure a lot of people would agree, but I’d like to see something ample in a “Gattaca” release. And “It Happened One Night” is dying for a 2-discer.

  • 3 9-23-2008 at 8:32 am

    Jonathan Spuij said...

    I can’t imagine there not being made a SE or at least 2-disc (or even 3!) for Blood and especially Jesse James. With all those cuts floating around and the production trouble there’s plenty of story revolving that one. I still think that the finest DVD of the past few years was the Kingdom of Heaven DC. Hell it even spoke of the postponed Persepolis into great detail and the quarrel with the studio barely a year later. Brilliant stuff.

    Also, I would also like a Thin Red Line SE Super 4 dvd set or something. Oh and it would also be a great time to release and uber-set of the full recording sessions for Zimmer’s score. 4 hours of score and barely 40 minutes on cd is severely lacking.

  • 4 9-23-2008 at 8:44 am

    nick said...

    A special edition of Gattaca, which is one of the finest modern sci-fi films ever made, would certainly be welcome. The Blu-Ray release is gorgeous.

    How and why Criterion wouldn’t want to put out a Thin Red Line special edition is baffling. They’re supposed to be about taking important films and giving them their day in the sun; makes no sense that they wouldn’t want to bestow the Criterion treatment to one of the best war films of all time.

  • 5 9-23-2008 at 9:57 am

    Christopher said...

    It is time for a full fledged Kill Bill Special Edition DVD. I am ready to views this film the way it was meant to by Tarrantino.

  • 6 9-23-2008 at 10:39 am

    Troy said...

    I’d have to imagine that Criterion will eventually release The Thin Red Line.

  • 7 9-23-2008 at 12:39 pm

    mike said...

    I agree we need a new version of Jesse James, and this time Warners shouldn’t screw up the Blu-Ray transfer, the video has a halo effect all over it and the audio is nothing special either.

    We need a Criterion edition of The Fountain too…

  • 8 9-23-2008 at 12:54 pm

    Dan said...

    El Norte. I do believe Criterion is realising this soon, but when? No concrete dates have been penned.

  • 9 9-23-2008 at 1:32 pm

    Nicolas Mancuso said...

    I’ve always wanted a special edition of Evita.

  • 10 9-23-2008 at 2:52 pm

    Speaking English said...

    The movies that contain Liv Ullmann’s two Oscar nominated roles, “The Emigrants” and “Face to Face,” are both unavailable on DVD in the USA. I WANT TO SEE THEM!

  • 11 9-23-2008 at 3:25 pm

    Jonathan Spuij said...

    The Fountain’s regular release had a fine making-off doc and a commentary too I believe. Not much more to add there.

    Kill Bill got anounced ages ago but still ain’t here. What’s up with that?

  • 12 9-23-2008 at 7:41 pm

    Marvin said...

    Agreed on Gattaca, a film I still don’t own cuz the DVD’s available don’t seem attractive enough to me.

    I also think that Evita is in need of a re-release.

    I’m glad that we finally seem to be getting a decent release of Beetlejuice this year, but where is Dick Tracy?

    I’d also like a special edition of The Lion in Winter, Barton Fink, Death Becomes Her, Big Business and Nanook of the North…

    Any edition of The African Queen will do at this point. I can’t believe that film is still unavailable in today’s market.

  • 13 9-23-2008 at 9:04 pm

    Proman said...

    Some excellent suggestions.

    Annie Hall (no seriously, I want to see that OTHER cut), Barry Lyndon, Shindler’s List, Exotica, Silent Running, The Night of the Hunter.